Posted by: Sally Ingraham | August 14, 2009

Into the Beautiful North (and a Giveaway!)

Into the Beautiful Northby Luis Alberto Urrea

Several months ago I won a set of 5 Latino books, given away by Hachette Book Group, through the lovely Claire at Kiss A Cloud. I have won very few things throughout my life, so I was completely blown over with delight when I found out, and equally excited when the books arrived a couple weeks ago.

All recent publications, the books are:
B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez
The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas
Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda

I read Into the Beautiful North in three days, which was so refreshing after slogging through the majority of my reading choices in July.

The book follows the escapades of 19 year old Nayeli, who lives in the quietly dying Mexican town of Tres Camarones. All of the men have gone north to find jobs, leaving the town vulnerable to a group of drug dealers with big plans to take it over. After watching The Magnificent Seven at the town’s decrepit theater, Nayeli collects a group of friends and sets off on a quest to cross the border into the mythical USA and bring back seven Mexican warriors to defend Tres Camarones and revive the town. Of course things don’t go quite as smoothly as she hoped and there are lots of things to discover about America, Mexico, and herself on the journey.

Sounds lovely, right? And it is, in an almost fairytale-like way. The book overflows with quirky characters, and is quite funny. It has a very serious edge to it though, providing an insiders look at border crossing, the harsh existence the destitute of Tijuana endure, and the uneasy relationship between the Americans (both legal and illegal) and the ‘wetbacks’ (recent crossers) whom they encounter. This reality met with a certain amount of disbelief for me in this book – I didn’t find the overall story ‘believable’ in the sense that ‘this could really happen’. I didn’t find myself caring that much though – the story is entertaining and the writing is really lovely. It’s a happy – even joyful book – and while I was reading it I felt luminous and warm and full of laughter.

I will definitely be seeking out some of Urrea’s other books, and if anyone is interested in reading some other thoughts on this one check out Bethany’s review of it. She also got to meet the author and wrote a great post about that.

And finally, I have books to give away! Through an epic mix-up at Hachette, I received 5 complete sets of those books. I plan to pass them around to my friends and co-workers, but I would also like to split a set among any of you who is interested – leave a comment about the book you would like, first come first serve, one book each. 🙂


  1. Hi Sarah: I’d go for either Disappearance of Irene 2 Santos or Into the North in that order if either’s still available. Thanks!

  2. Well Richard, I’ll give it a bit longer but it looks like you can have both books if you would like. Send me your address info. 🙂

  3. Hi! Please email me ASAP with your email address. You were nominated in BBAW’s Best General Review Blog category and we need to send you an email. Thank you!

  4. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, Sarah, but I just got back from a trip out of town. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find your e-mail address anywhere; could I trouble you to send it to the one I have listed on my blog? And congrats on the nomination listed above–I’m very excited for you!

  5. What a wonderful giveaway! I would love “Into the North” or “The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos” but, to be honest I’d love to give any of them a try. I don’t like to judge books that I haven’t seen, held and read a little bit of!

    Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  6. Hi Amy – Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be sending books out soon – it will be fun to surprise you! 🙂

    Richard – Thanks for the congrats. I’m completely surprised and super excited about the nomination!

  7. I am so sorry, I meant to congratulate you on your nomination the other day. I completely spaced plus I was in awe of your lovely giveaway!. Anway, congratulations on being nominated. It’s fantastic and says a lot about your blog which I am very happy I discovered!

    Take care!

  8. Amy – Thanks! I’m looking forward to reading your blog as well. There can never be enough talk about books! 🙂

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